If you stop for fast food on the way to the course, then scarf down couple of candy bars and a soda during the round, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Why spend so much time, effort and money improving your swing if you’re not going to prepare and maintain your body properly on game day?

If your load up on fats, sugars and empty carbs, the best you can hope for is a short energy burst. But a crash is inevitable. Poor food choices don’t provide the sustained physical and mental energy necessary over the course of 4-5 hours. You need a healthy meal before teeing off, beneficial snacks and plenty of fluids while you play.

Here’s a better approach to keeping your body properly fueled.

Before the round

get off to a solid start 1

  • Eat a meal a few hours before playing, if time permits.
  • Your plate should include lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish), whole grains (bread, pasta, cereal with skim milk), vegetables and fruit.
  • If it’s early morning, yogurt is a good protein substitute for meat (as long as it’s low in sugar).
  • If needed, have a snack before teeing off. Eat a piece of fruit or whole-grain granola bar (low in fat and sugar).
  • Start hydrating with a 16-ounce bottle of water, more if it’s hot/humid.

During the round

handle the heat 2

  • Don’t wait until the turn to eat and drink. Pack snacks like nuts, granola or fruit to munch on every few holes.
  • If you eat a meal between nines, make it a healthy sandwich (tuna on wheat, for example) with a side of yogurt, fruit or veggies. Whatever you do, skip the hot dog, fries and soda.
  • Stay hydrated – this is crucial to maintaining your strength and focus throughout 18 holes. If you perspire a lot, you may go through a bottle of water every couple of holes. Otherwise, 4-5 bottles for the round should suffice.

If you have a tendency to lose focus and play poorly toward day’s end, the problem may be a simple matter of dietary choices. That’s a lot easier to fix than a faulty backswing.